Rights, Responsibility and the Real Deal by Jeremy Butler The Right to FreeSpeech is Protected Ideas are the backbone of democracy. However we see fit toexpress those ideas is a right provided in the Constitution of the UnitedStates.
No matter the format of that expression someone will find them offensiveand seek to stop that expression. The Communications Decency Act is just thelatest incarnation of small minds raging against the tide. The CDA stomps on thefirst amendment of the Constitution like a bunch of bikers in hobnailed boots. It must be relentlessly pursued until dead. Everyone participating in the 24Hours of Democracy is part of the hunting party that will see to that. Thankfully we are not alone, the ACLU, EFF, VTW and others are on our side.
Andlet’s not forget our most powerful ally is the Constitution itself. The framersof the Constitution fought a bloody Revolution based on freedom of speech andother rights of a truly free people. They included no qualifications on thatfree speech. That principle has been upheld with minimal exceptions (no shouting”FIRE” in a crowded theater, please). The CDA is not the first (orlast) legislation to attack free speech, and it won’t survive in the courts anybetter than past laws. That is the purpose of the judicial branch of thegovernment, to balance the excesses of the legislative (Congress) and theexecutive (President) branches.
Our forefathers included that in theConstitution too, almost as if they knew that government would be dominated byself serving, arrogant prostitutes who could only be controlled by pitting themagainst one another. I believe in the U. S. system of government, even whilequestioning the motives and methods of the participants. Our voices and voteswill be heard.
It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just government. It is ourResponsibility to Maintain the Net Culture Pornography is a tripwire, out in thefringes of the larger issue of free speech. I’m glad it’s there, so we know whenthe storm troopers are coming (no pun intended), but it is not the reason theFirst Amendment is there. Open political discourse, such as 24 Hours ofDemocracy, is the idea the founders were protecting. So long as the generalpublic only hears “We want our porn” they will never hear the realmessage “We are fighting for your freedom”. We cannot forget theGeneral Public; we must gather and nurture their support.
The Net has alwaysbeen about openness, but at the same time it has always been self policing (askany flamee). It is our responsibility to maintain that environment. While theanything goes rule must be protected, we must provide the tools to allow parentsto control the content of what their children access. We must voluntarily adoptsome form of rating system that makes it simple. We must not only provide themeans, we must aggressively and happily promote them (without whining). To doless is to avoid our responsibility and hand control over to others.
This is apolitical issue, if we don’t police ourselves then the public will demand thatit be done for them. If it is done by the government, you can be assured we willcome full circle to this point again. It is that simple. Providing Content onthe Net is the Real Deal. The whole telecommunications bill is about the Net ofthe Future. The floodgates are open, the carriers can now build their pipes fromany place to any place, everybody gets to create content for sale and the mediagiants are happy.
Picture the land rushes into the West, a cannon goes off andeverybody charges off to stake their claim. The Net has one key difference,unlimited territory. Right now anybody with the right equipment and theknowledge can be a Net/Web presence with the content of their choice andbasically doesn’t have to ask ANYBODY. That must be protected from centralauthority, whether governmental or corporate. That responsibility falls to us,because we are here and we understand what we have.
We are the Thomas Paine’s ofour age with a printing press, a burning desire for freedom and the will to riskit all to print a political pamphlet. We have the tools, the desire is evidentin 24 Hours of Democracy, and thanks to a functional democratic system the risksare relatively low (no gallows at least). We must create our own territory anddefend it. There will be casualties, just like Phil Zimmerman and Steve Jackson,but that is the price of freedom. The public is coming to the Net, we mustpromote Net culture as we know it. If we fail ,then all we end up with is 500channel cable, VoD, home shopping and whatever else the media giants deliver forus to consume (including all the pornography you are willing to pay for), whilethey sell us their products.